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Should you self-publish fiction?

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This was the question one of you asked me last week. It’s a good one, too.

Until the past year or so I would have shouted, HEAVENS NO! Bookstores simply won’t buy self-published fiction, nor will the libraries (lest it be your home library, if you are menacing enough looking!)

The reason is simple: 95% of it is pretty awful, even if it is properly laid out and the words are spelled correctly. They figure that if the big houses (or any regular publisher, with standards and pride) wouldn’t publish it, there was a good reason.

But now with ancillary publishing–Lulu, CreateSpace, Blurb, Kindle, Smashwords, LSI, and Scribd–and particularly the easy access to their e-publishing, it’s much, much easy easier to get your words in print professionally, not to mention that it costs nothing (or almost nothing). So the gates have opened to getting your fiction shared with the buying public–and the bound versions look good too!

Still, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be good fiction, proofed, readable, well researched, with a plot and characters (even a setting and a time). You will be judged by the product–and the ancillary houses may still find your offering too terrible to inflict on others.

My book, How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days, will be available in early March. I’ll walk you through all the steps to best use the seven ancillary publishers.

In the meantime, if you are planning to foist a novel on the unsuspecting world, take the next few weeks and finish up your manuscript. Then let a grumpy friend read it. If they survive, now is the time to charge through the new gates!

(I talk a lot about ancillary publishers in my free, monthly newsletter.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Where the publishing gold is hiding…

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These are grim times for most publishers, and there’s no clear path to prosperity in the near future–with one huge exception.

Niche publishing always works, because you test it first and only create the book when it’s a solid go.

I received a press release this morning that had actual, believable numbers in it that prove my point, thus a quick blog.

Michael Wiese Productions publishes “the best how-to books in filmmaking.”

“We seem to be recession-proof because the creative community needs our information,” says Michael. With a three-member operation, they have 120 books in print, lead their field with 34 top-selling titles, and–most alarming–have a 17% sales growth for each of the last three years.

Their goal “is to provide quality, cutting-edge how-to information that helps aspiring artsts launch their dream careers.”

The point here is that there is no mystery to niche publishing. Do what they do in your field and you will be profitable. I walk you through the planning and pre-testing part in Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time!

We first tried it with dentists, and it brought us several million dollars. Once tested, you just put the book together and sell it to the niche.

The press release reminded me to share this good news again.

I also talk about this in my free newsletter.

Combine niche books with empire building and there simply is no recession. When you tell folks how to do what they love to do better, faster, and with positive results, there is always an eager market of smart buyers who want to get ahead!

See you at the newsletter!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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How to get an interview for your article or book…

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An attendee from one of my publishing seminars is writing a book and had a few interview-related questions that you may also have, so let me share a few thoughts here.

(Incidentally, I’m offering three different writing- and publishing-related seminars near Stanford and Santa Cruz, California, in mid-March: see www.gordonburgett.com/seminars.htm.)

One, how to arrange an interview?

Decide first what you are writing about, and if an article, the primary target publication you will query. Then figure out whose words would make that article timely, accurate, and valuable. (Know the question[s] you need answered by the interviewee.) Figure three people quoted per article is a good target, but you may need more. And of course get the email and/or phone numbers of those you wish to quote.

Most folks will talk to you if they know why and that it won’t take much time, so I figure 15 minutes max, and hope for five!

Be ready to go when you dial the phone. I once called Governor Adlai Stevenson, figuring I’d get some aide. The Governor (he had just announced his Presidential candidacy) answered the phone himself, and after hearing my spiel said, “If you’re ready, let’s go!”

The spiel? “Good morning. I’m Gordon Burgett. I’d like to interview the Governor about _____ for ______ magazine. Two questions, at most five minutes, if possible.” Then I let the person on the phone respond or ask me questions. They’d usually provide a call-back time (and the number). With Governor Stevenson, it was right then!

My batting average using this approach? Great for politicians and lesser luminaries, only fair for academics.

If I an’t get the phone number, now I email. The go-ahead ratio is about the same by email (they can check your website or bio before responding), but they usually want to be interviewed by email too–and you’re not always certain it is them responding on the other end.

Another question: do I need an OK from them to use their words? No, I told them it was an interview. Can I use it in other articles or a book. Yes. But you always have to be accurate, which is why a taped interview (even by phone) is best.

Last question. Can you use anything just said in conversation in an article or book? Actually yes, but it can be harder to prove later that it was said. A funny example. I needed just a few words of affirmation from the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil. Very much by chance we were standing side by side at urinals during a break in a reception, and I asked him the question. He laughed and gave me the answer! We washed up, and five minutes later I formally met him in the reception line, to which he said, “It’s good to meet you again, Mr. Burgett–in more salubrious circumstances!”

If this helps, great!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I talk a lot more about publishing and writing in my free newsletter at www.gordonburgett.com/nl.htm.

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